Not long ago we mentioned that the Taliban had gone online to raise money for their violent Jihadi activities. In that same post we mentioned that US intelligence sources had indicated that most of the Taliban’s financing sources remained intact since US forces engineered their overthrow way back in 2001.
This continued financing provides one explanation as to how the Taliban have continued to wage Jihad in Afghanistan still today.
Now more details are coming out about the Taliban’s financing.
Up until September of 2010, the US believed that most of the Taliban’s funding came from drug trafficking, but that may not actually be the case.
It appears that the Taliban continue to enjoy broad support from donors abroad. The CIA estimates that the Taliban received $106 million in such funding in 2009–and that is only the money that the CIA was actually able to trace. By comparison, the US estimates that the Taliban’s revenue from the drug trade is just $70 million per year.
According to Russian news agencies, Richard Barrett, who leads efforts by the UN Security Council to oversee sanctions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, explains the difficulty in tracking donations with the fact that sponsors of terrorism became experts in disguising transfers and traces of entanglement. “It is very, very difficult to identify these people,” said Barrett. “You can monitor the cash flows and find that the money came from the Gulf, but to establish the exact source of it is a lot harder.”
Salafist countries in the region have been aiding the Taliban since they seized power in Kabul in the 1990s, when Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, along with Pakistan, were the only nations to officially recognize the Taliban regime.
It is likely that most of the funding from these nations comes in the form of zakat from Islamic charities. Tracking Taliban funding is very difficult. The vast majority of financial transactions are carried out through the age-old, informal Islamic settlement system known as hawala. In the hawala system, the money goes through private brokers and money changers who do not make records of their customers, making tracing sources very difficult.
Efforts to get countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan to cooperate in keeping Islamic charities from funding Jihad and to track and regulate hawala have largely met with the “runaround.”